Pattern languages were originally developed in the domain of built environments (i.e. environmental structure). In the early 1990s, the proposal to apply pattern languages in software development led to a reframing of object-oriented design and methods and the rise of agile development practices. This cross-appropriation from built environments to software development coincided with a deeper reading of Christopher Alexander's writing, principally focused on books published in the late 1970s.
Service systems, as a domain originating as recently as 2005, can benefit from a literature review of key ideas evolved by Alexander from 1964 through 2012. Service systems thinking has been proposed as a label that combines (i) systems thinking; (ii) the SSMED (Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design) vision; (iii) the generative pattern language theory underpinning Alexander's life work; and (iv) multiple perspectives open collaboration enabled through contemporary collaborative Internet technologies such as federated wiki. This article focuses primarily on two of four parts, (ii) SSMED and (iii) generative pattern language. References on (i) systems thinking and (iv) federated wiki are separately available as complementary published papers and web video on the Internet.
With service systems thinking as a new area of research, a full of appreciation of Alexander's thinking is an aspiration. Since service systems are interactive in a way that built environments may not be, generativity in a pattern language is desirable. In addition, a service system may aspire to produce wholeness, through the architecting of key centers. This article aims to serve as a boundary-spanning reference on which conversations for orientation can be founded.
David Ing, "From Environmental Structure to Service Systems Thinking: Wholeness with Centers Described with a Generative Pattern Language", Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs .
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